Iowa police department under fire racial profiling claims

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TheGrio has launched a special series called #BlackonBlue to examine the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans. Our reporters and videographers will investigate police brutality and corruption while also exploring local and national efforts to improve policing in our communities. Join the conversation, or share your own story, using the hashtag #BlackonBlue.The Des Moines, Iowa police department is being accused of racism and a community group says it runs deep, after a motorist accused a cop of racial profiling during a traffic stop.

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The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement says the traffic stop was just a tip of the iceberg for a bigger problem within the police department after it released telling body cam video of a cop stop.

Montray Little and a passenger Jared Clinton were stopped by officers Kyle Thies and Natalie Heinemann and accused of drug possession and for “acting like they had a weapon.”

Little and Clinton were removed from the car. Little was handcuffed and a police search of the vehicle turned up nothing. The only thing police uncovered was an open alcohol bottle that they made the men dump out, 13 Who reports.

The community group argues that there were no obvious signs of a traffic violation that made it necessary for a traffic stop.

Also at issue are the records obtained by Iowa CCI, which says that Officer Thies booked suspects on 282 charges into the Polk County Jail in 2017 – and every last one of them were reportedly Black.

The Des Moines Police Department disputes that claim and says the statistics are false.

The department says it’s investigating the claim.

Sgt. Paul Parizek called the numbers “horribly inaccurate.”

Framing Black Men

In a similar case in Biscayne, Florida, the claim of dirty cops racially profiling Black people came to a head when ex-Florida officer confessed to framing residents in a sweeping scandal which included the take down of a police chief.

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Chief Raimundo Atesiano was at the center of a corruption scandal for ordering police to arrest Black people and pout bogus charges on them. Atesiano, who prided himself on having a near perfect record for solving crimes, was charged with abuse of power after an internal investigation revealed that he ordered cops to target and arrest Black people and charge them with crimes to keep his positive stats.

A number of officers took a plea deal to speak out against their former boss. Guillermo Ravelo, 37, pleaded guilty in Miami federal court that he conspired to violate the rights of two falsely accused men. According to the Herald, one man was charged with a pair of home break-ins in 2013, and the other with five vehicle burglaries the following year.

Ravelo was fired from his job earlier this year.

Earlier this week, another wrongful conviction has been tossed when prosecutors dismissed the wrongful burglary conviction of a man who they found was framed, serving five years in prison and then was deported back to his native country, Haiti.

It’s definitely worth looking deeply into the Des Moines police department’s arrests. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.